Blain’s Blog – Antigua Sailing Week – Saturday 25th April
“We’re the pride of the Solent
We’re the Team Southern Crew
We know where we’re going
‘Cos we’re in front of you!”
What a fantastic start to Team Southern’s Antigua Race Week Campaign! Our No 1 Boat, EHO1 was first in class and second overall in Saturday’s Round Antigua Race while No 2 Boat, Sam was Third in her class. It was a great day’s racing in champagne sailing conditions.
On EHO1 we set off from the dock at 7.30am for an 8.30am start in English Harbour. Our Skipper, Andy Middleton of Global Racing, plus the afterguard of club members Dick Long and Andrew Webster, did a great job picking our point on the start line, but a large Swan barged its way in and we were caught in its dirty air for a while. The first part of the race, in unseasonable southerly winds, was a beat past Green Island, and the whole of our class were only seconds apart.
Amongst our rivals were some great boats including a Salona 44, a King 40 and a J133 – all great racing machines and semi-pro sailed. We held a narrow lead as we approached the South-East corner of the Island. The other boats hoisted reaching Spinnakers but we decided to hold on and waited the extra moments to hoist our largest running Kite. As they struggled to peal to running sails we took off like the proverbial butcher’s dog with the sausages.
Then disaster struck! Despite having practiced gybes till our fingers bled earlier in the week, our first gybe of the day resulted in a disasterous wrap around the forestay. We ended up dropping the kite, unravelling it and then rehoisting. We went from 10 boat-lengths ahead of the rest of the fleet to the absolute back marker by over 100 lengths. Ouch.
But we kept chasing. At times it looked as if the J133 was doing a horizon job on us, but in lighter winds on the west of the Island we played the shifts and fought our way back. By the time we turned the last corner to beat east back to Falmouth we were back in the lead and we held on to it to the finish – gaining line honours in our class, and later we discovered we were second overall by less than 2 minutes.
There was Jubilation in the bar of the Antigua Yacht Club and a rash of beers.. what’s not to like about this island! And then on to the prize giving in Nelsons Harbour. We’re a very happy crew and we’ve given ourselves a deal of confidence for the coming races. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.